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Cabeço da Mina Interpretive Centre


Estelas Antropomórficas do Cabeço da Mina são Tesouro Nacional

41.34104633490838, -7.067911966766379


Classified since 2014, the site Cabeço da Mina is located on a small elevation of the Vilariça Valley, on the right bank overlooking the river of the same name.

It was, above all, thanks to the investigations carried out at the site between the mid-eighties and the beginning of the nineties by the well-known archaeologists Francisco Sande Lemos and Orlando Sousa, that this archaeological site started to centralize the interest of the national scientific community, namely through its presentation at international meetings (SOUSA, O., REBANDA, N., 1993).

The study of artefacts identified during the archaeological campaigns seems to point to the existence of a prehistoric sanctuary, dating back to the Chalcolithic (3rd millennium BC), as the typological and stylistic interpretation of its constituent elements seems to indicate. In fact, the analysis of the sculptural representations collected to date will allow us to affirm that we are in the presence of one of the oldest and most representative examples of this archaeological typology of all that have been recorded so far in the entire territory of the Iberian Peninsula, if not throughout the entire western region of the Mediterranean Europe.

Around thirty "menhir stelae" were collected at the site, most of them without any decorative signs, presenting themselves as plain stelae made of granite and schist. As for the decorated ones, they show an admittedly anthropomorphic character, given both by the carved shape itself and by the carved motifs, composed of “x” symbols and parallel lines.

In addition to this artefactual set, it was possible to recognize only the presence of a structure with a Northwest-Southwest orientation, built with various local raw materials, such as granite, schist, or quartz fragments (SOUSA, Orlando, 1997).

The fact that the figures do not include any type of weapon seems to move away from the interpretation normally traced to the so-called statue menhirs of the Late Bronze Age, especially in the North of Portugal, where they would materialize an eventual predominance of "[...] characters of superior social status, glorified in their social function of command, or mythical or divine entities in which the charisma inherent to such function was projected. [...] correlated with the cult of chiefs warriors within deeply hierarchical communities." (JORGE, S.O., 1990, p. 249).